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Govt seems cornered as demands for JPC probe into Rafale deal gains momentum


New Delhi, Sep 23: The recent claim by former France president Francois Hollande that it was the Indian Government which proposed the name of Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence in the Rafale deal has once again sent the political temperatures soaring.

After Hollande's statement, the demand for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into the Rafale deal, which the Congress has already been demanding, has gained momentum with other parties also backing the grand old party over it.

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Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had last week rejected the opposition's demand for setting up of a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to probe allegations relating to the Rafale deal, saying all the details on it have already been placed before Parliament.

Today, however, Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav also demanded a probe by the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the controversial defence deal between India and France.

''We demand a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe on Rafale deal. Without a JPC, the truth will not come out, the issue has now become global,'' Akhilesh said.

Senior advocate and social actvist Prashant Bhushan also made a similar demand on Sunday and further went on the say that the Rafale fighter aircraft deal is India's largest defence scam. Bhushan said the deal compromised the national security as the number of fighter aircraft contract had been reduced to 36 from originally planned 126.

"The government should immediately agree for a JPC probe and put all the papers before it. There is no (element) of national security (as being claimed by the government). They only want to hide the huge scam in defence purchase," he said.

[Francois Hollande's statement, Rahul's tweet are 'orchestrated', says Arun Jaitley]

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on September 23 hit back at Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, saying it's time Jaitley and the Prime Minister stopped lying and call for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe for an "uncorrupted truth" to come out. Rahul has been demanding the JPC probe for quite sometime now.

['Rahul ka Pura Khandan Chor': Nirmala Sitharaman on Rafale row]

The Rafale controversy took a turn last week after Hollande stirred a hornets nest by claiming that the Indian government proposed Reliance Defence as the offset partner for Dassault Aviation. In response, the French government said it was in no manner involved in the choice of Indian industrial partners for the Rafale deal, asserting that French firms have the full freedom to select Indian companies for the contract.

[Decoding Rafale deal: From allegations to counter-allegations]

Responding to Hollande's claim, Jaitley said that former French President contradicted himself and neither the Indian nor the French government played any role in selection of Reliance as offset partner by Dassault.

Hollande was the French president when the Rs 58,000 crore deal for buying 36 Rafale jets was signed in 2016.

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